The buzz has been positive around Jorge Soler’s mini-breakout campaign this year, as he’s turned in a .248/.312/.532 line with an eye-grabbing 21 home runs. It’s a good news-bad news situation for the Royals, as the jump in production makes Soler likely to decline a $4MM option and become eligible for arbitration, per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan.
On the whole, he’s much the same player he’s always been, but the mere fact that he’s been healthy (knock on wood) is a positive change. But has his game improved otherwise? The realization of his long-tantalizing raw power (.284 ISO) makes up the majority of Soler’s improvement. Meanwhile, his walk rate has fallen below-average to 7.5 BB% and his strikeout rate is up a tick as well, though the quality of his contact has been strong across the board.
He will be an interesting arbitration case to follow, as slugger’s of Soler’s ilk generally fare better in arbitration than they might on today’s open market. C.J. Cron jumps to mind as a comp, whom the Rays DFA’ed after a 30-homer, 2.0 rWAR season rather than give a raise on his $2.3MM 2018 salary. Cron ended up in Minnesota for $4.8MM, where he’s already accumulated 2.0 rWAR via his .279/.344/.534 batting line. Such numbers might be a best-case scenario for Soler in 2020, as even Cron’s 2018 lands slightly higher than Soler’s 2019 by wRC+ (122 to 118).
Depending on where the Royals fall in their valuation of Soler, a non-tender would not be wholly unreasonable were he to opt into arbitration as Flanagan suggests. At 27-years-old, Soler should be entering his prime, and depending on how this season ends, he could be coming off the most prodigious power season in Royals history. Power pays in arbitration.
The Royals typically have their own way of doing things, however, and Soler’s power is a unique contribution on a roster that ranks 23rd in the majors in isolated power and slugging percentage. Their books remain relatively clean moving forward, especially after 2020 when only Danny Duffy, Salvador Perez, and Whit Merrifield are under contract. Dayton Moore could attempt to buy out Soler’s two remaining arbitration years in one fell swoop. Investing in an injury-prone, one-dimensional designated hitter – even a good one – is not necessarily the safest stock option for the Royals, however.
It’s only June 22, so much of this story has yet to play out – but it’s never too early to gauge public opinion! Besides, what better way to start out your Saturday morning than with a healthy pondering of the best application of the Royals future payroll?
If Soler’s trajectory holds and he opts into arbitration, how should the Royals respond? (Poll link for app users.)
Jorge Soler > Kyle Schwarber
Weird and completely out of nowhere comparison…
Not that out of nowhere if Soler can prove that the power is real. Both strike out a lot, Schwarber walks more, neither carry defensive value, both are corner OF, Schwarber can’t hit LHP at all, Soler has a negligible difference in splits.
Kyle does carry defensive value. He throws out a lot of base runners. And he is not being subbed out for defensive replacements like he was the last couple of seasons.
He has also started to hit lefties but he has not fulfilled the lofty ceiling he has as an overall hitter yet.
A Mom’s love!
“Corner OF” in massive air quotes, for both.
Somehow schwarber is an “all star” though
I don’t recall him making an all star game or being called an all star? He has shown strong numbers in the post season a couple of years.
He’s an all-star in Joe Buck’s eyes, and that’s clearly all that matters.
He’ll always be a champion.
Btw, So is Soler.
When has Joe Buck’s opinion ever mattered?
Yep, there should have been a “trade him” option in the poll.
How is 21 homers eye grabbing in 2019 when everybody has 15 homers or more already
Each additional homerun above the average grabs an increasing number of eyeballs?
Because 12 is his career high and 23 leads the AL.
Because not only is he close to leading the league in long balls but he is also doing it in the cavernous Kauffman Stadium
So I’m thinking we need to trade him, but the cupboard is fairly bare as far as who might replace him. Obviously we’ve got some time before we actually care.
Plug in Bonifacio. We aren’t going to be competitive and he can play for a few months until. Then, we can buy a rental player if he doesn’t cut it but nothing to lose this year
Interesting question! The Royals are loyal to players they like and they do need a few stars to excite the fan base. It is entertainment after all. A difficult question to answer without knowing the behind the scenes stuff and the Royals aren’t always logical in their moves.
Why not try and trade him to help out the farm system? I’m excited for the 3 college pitchers from last years draft, but we need better position players
The Royals did select a consensus top-3 positional prospect with their first pick in the 2019 June Draft in SS Bobby Witt Jr. who is also considered the best prep talent in this year’s class.
But yes, I do agree that the Royals ought to strongly consider selling high on Jorge Soler this summer as well as on versatile 30-year old Whit Merrifield.
I definitely hope Witt pans out for the Royals and helps them in the long run. They need more. O’hearn has been disappointing which is why he was demoted. Mondesi is good. Just need more position players
i would say they should try to deal him now, and if they cant get at least some actual return they should wait until the offseason starts to see if he should be tendered or ir another team would be interested in doing so.
I don’t see anything “bad” about this situation for them. I understand the Royals don’t like to spend money, but I have to believe they went into this season hoping he’d have a good enough year to opt into arbitration. I’d like to think they are more concerned with his development than they are about saving a couple million dollars. Maybe I’m just being naive.
Like to spend? Or afford to spend? Big difference. As the second smallest market, they have spent quite generously, sometimes to their peril. In 2015-2017 they ranked 16th, 16th and 15th, respectively. That’s not bad for the second smallest market.
And their payroll is down nearly $50M from 2017. They could easily afford to spend more if they wanted to. But yes, those numbers aren’t bad by any means.
That doesn’t change the point of my comment at all. They aren’t hoping he plays poorly so he opts into a $4M contract instead of arbitration to save a few dollars. If anything, your comment makes them look even dumber/cheaper if that’s what they’re thinking (again, I’m arguing that’s NOT what they are thinking).
So, a team that knows they are not competing during a rebuild should still spend like they are going all in? I don’t see the logic in that.
Your last sentence makes no sense
Yes. A similar situation to what the White Sox faced with oft-injured OF Avisail Garcia following his “breakout” 2017 season. The White Sox front office undoubtedly fielded offer on Garcia that offseason as the Royals will do now as KC embarks on their own rebuild.
Of course, the White Sox also considered Garcia a potential core piece going forward but that changed the following year and they ultimately wound up non-tendering him this past offseason, much to the delight of the Tampa Rays. For the sake of Royals fans, their font office decision with Jorge Soler will prove a bit more fruitful.
Problem is everyone else knows what the Royals know: Injury-prone, strikeout-prone, most likely peaking right now. A .240 hitter who rarely walks but hits 35 HR and isn’t great defensively just isn’t that valuable to teams. We’ve seen the past few FA cycles that teams aren’t willing to pay $ for this type of player, let alone give up prospect currency.
Keep him. He’s still young and has a ton of potential
its just a question of cost really. theres still plenty of potential, but plenty of room for disappointment. The Royals dont strike as the first team to take that gamble.
Yankees can always use another slugger…
LOL! The Bronx bombers also prefer acquiring players with World Series hardware on their resumes. Jorge Soler has a ring from the Cubs 2016 championship season. Soler can join another former Cub on the Yankees roster with the same 2016 ring. Soler would also join a former Royal with a championship ring, Kendry Morales from 2015. J.A. Happ also received a ring with the 2008 Phillies. Jacob Ellsbury who is on the Yankee 60-day IL and hasn’t played an MLB game since 2017 also received two rings with the Red Sox.
I believe the only current Yankees to earn a World Series ring with the Bronx Bombers was C.C. Sabathia and Brett Gardner from 2009.
All of this reminds me of when Astro fans wanted to trade Altuve during their rebuild, since he was one of their most tradeable guys. No, Soler isn’t Altuve; no where close. But he has some quality, and the price is reasonable for what he gives.
Total tanking, unless it’s in severe circumstances (Baltimore), just isn’t selling anymore. The Astros opened the window; the Astros closed it. The VERY loyal Royal fans need something to cheer about beside their farm system.
Soler is who he is, a 7th place hitter with some pop and a terrible glove; Rays fans will remember Jonny Gomes. Fans deserve SOMEBODY to cheer for.
Royals need to sell high on Soler, get a nice prospect in return and keep building the system.
They are the one team that lines up with San Diego in terms of a bad salary swap.
Royals send Alex Gordon, plus his 10MM for the remainder of 19’ plus the mutual option of 23MM for 20’. Danny Duffy and the (30.8MM) left on his deal, plus minor league OF Khalil Lee.
To San Diego for OF/1B Wil Myers (68MM) left on deal, 2B/SS Luis Urias and OF/1B- Josh Naylor.
The Royals shed two big contracts and acquire two top prospects in this deal, All with only spending $5MM.
The Padres get Gordon for the next 1.5 years, can play any OF spot cleaner than Myers and proves much need LH balance to the lineup, also his relationship with Hosmer can’t be ignored, Duffy anchors this young rotation and provides much needed stability, Lee is a toolsy OF the Padres front office loves, sweetens the deal for SD parting with Urias + Naylor.
Royals won’t trade Gordon. Moore said he can’t see Gordon ever wearing a different uniform.
Dang, that’s unfortunate. Him in San Diego makes a lot of sense.
A lineup of:
Looks solid but I can see why KC won’t deal the long time face of the franchise.
Not only that, Gordon is 10/5. He won’t approve a trade. I guess he could have a change of heart and want a shot at another ring but I don’t see it. 98% chance he stays in KC.
Wrong word choice. The word is “can’t”, not “won’t”.
Alex can refuse any trade. Alex wants to retire a Royal. He’ll refuse it if they try.
He’s exciting and i’d love to keep him here in KC but we dont have the team we need yet to be able to utilize a player like him. Although, I don’t see many AL contenders giving up anything of worth for soler.
Royals should pay Soler and they should not trade him. He is a perfect guy to compliment the contact hitters in Whit and Mondesi. The Royals lineup is set for contention. They now need to really really focus on pitching.
No sell high, build around Whit and Mondesi.
Cash in while he is hot, add more pitching to the system.
Tampa has been widely looking for OF help, Heredia isn’t going to cut it if the Rays want to make a deep run, Soler fits there.
Shane Baz would be a high upside return for him. Becomes a top 3-5 prospect with KC instantly.
The Royals would have to get a Honeywell or liberatore. It sounds like a lot but if the rays want to make a run they will have to give up prospects. I also think he would be a better fit on a different team like the astros who need a consistent DH. The rays already have that in Garcia.
Let’s be real here. Soler is a nice piece, but he’s nowhere near valuable enough to bring back either of those prospects.
If you think Mondesi is a contact hitter, you might want to look again. He is far from a contact hitter. Very exciting player, no doubt and being a KC fan I am excited about his future, but Dave Kingman scoffs at the idea Mondesi is a contact hitter.
I agree Mondesi is not a true contact hitter like Whit but he is not a power hitter either. He is purely a five tool player and that’s what makes him so valuable.
He’s actually walking a lot more now. 7 straight games with a walk, I think the broadcasters said last night
If he continues to improve in that regard it makes the decision that much harder: increases his value-including trade value, and improves his arb case which means higher salary. If there’s a chance of defensive improvement you keep him. If not, trade him.
What is his PxJBB?
(power numbers adjusted for juiced baseballs).
My bet is that the Royals extend him.
I don’t think the Royals will shop him, but they should be open to offers.
If you trade him you face the same situation the Tigers faced last year with Castellinos. Good hitting right fielders that are defensive liabilities aren’t in a lot of demand.
Eye popping??? Everyone one knows that the ball is juiced and that the HRs are an attempt by MLB to spike interest in the game with the decline in attendance and viewing numbers from 2Oyrs ago
Now that is a profound comment by a keen observer. Willy Wonka sent me to ask you if you’d come work in his chocolate factory. Don’t tell anyone about this.
Before the season, I wrote up my mid-season trade list for the Royals.. It began with these three guys:
1. Jorge Soler
2. Jorge Bonifacio
3. Terrance Gore
I anticipate at least 2, if not all 3 are gone by deadline.